A Family Torn Apart by Trump’s Refugee Ban

Amina, a Somali refugee, was about to reunite with her son, Mohamed, after nearly two years apart. Then came Trump’s ban.

by Nick Miriello and Julia Steers
04 February 2017, 5:00am

The room is dark save for the blue-green wash of light coming off the big-screen TV.

In the other room, morning prayers still play on a radio, muted and distant. Mumtaz, the 3-year-old girl whose explosive energy usually consumes the two-bedroom apartment, is lying on her back watching a cartoon cadre of British elves and fairies imagine a pink unicorn into existence. She mouths the dialogue; she's seen this episode before.

Her mother, Amina Ibrahim, points to the giant bowl of Rice Krispies that Mumtaz has deserted on the kitchen table. "Mumtaz, eat," she says in Somali. The cereal is Mumtaz's breakfast, but also a distraction. Amina is preparing for her regular phone call with Mohamed, her second of four children and Mumtaz's only brother. The family, all refugees of Somalia's ongoing civil war, had to leave him behind with a friend in Uganda when they resettled to Ohio in 2015.

"Why do you hate me, Mommy?" Mohamed asks almost every time they speak. "Why haven't you come for me?"

These phone calls, just a few minutes each, are the only time Amina sees him. Mohamed is now living in Nairobi, Kenya, with a friend of the first friend—a stranger, really, who was kind enough to take him in. He turned 4 in October. The family hoped he would soon join Amina, her husband, and her daughters in the US. They are on top of the paperwork and Mohamed is a just few steps short of the necessary approvals in his nearly two-year-long reunification process.

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